When I look at a person, I see qualities like kindness, intelligence, sincerity, innocence, harmlessness, strength, humility, that seem to belong to the being, and no matter what they do, these qualities remain. When I share these things with people, they always seem amazed and don’t realize that these qualities are theirs. They seem to think that knowing this will strengthen the ego. I’ve always thought that to know these qualities of essence dissolves the ego.
It is a complex situation. You both are right, but in different senses.
To really know these qualities as an experience will not strengthen the ego; the ego will be dissolved.
But to know these qualities without experiencing them, because someone has suggested to you that you have these qualities – and who does not want to have these qualities? – you immediately accept them and grab them. It is going to strengthen your ego. So they are also right: if we start thinking that we have these qualities it will make our ego stronger.
You are absolutely right, but you are using the word know in different senses. You are using it as an experience, as an existential realization; they are using it as knowledge.
As knowledge it is the most dangerous thing to accept these qualities because then you will never discover them, you will never search for them. You will become a hypocrite.
So whenever you see these qualities in a person, don’t make him knowledgeable about them but help him to be curious, inquisitive about these qualities. Help him to search for these qualities in himself: perhaps he may have them. But remember the “perhaps.”
Don’t give them a certainty – everybody wants certainty, some easy guarantee – just give them a desire to explore. Just make them thirsty enough and alert that perhaps the source of water that can quench your thirst is within you; just look there.
Teach them to meditate so that they can discover these qualities one day. When they know that they have them, then there is no danger of their ego being strengthened; otherwise ego has such subtle ways to be strengthened. It is always looking everywhere to find some food to be nourished on.
It is of immense importance for every one of you, because slowly, slowly you will become perceptive; you will start seeing things which people are unaware of. They have them, but they don’t know that they have them. And as you become perceptive, your responsibility grows. You are not to say to them, “You have these qualities.”
At the most you can say to them, “Perhaps you have them but you have to look, you have to search, you have to seek. And who knows? – I may be wrong.” In no way strengthen their ego knowingly or unknowingly because ego is the greatest bondage, the only hell that I know of.